Emmet G. Sullivan

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Emmet Gael Sullivan
Emmet G. Sullivan 2012.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Assumed office
June 16, 1994
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Louis F. Oberdorfer
Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
In office
Appointed by George H. W. Bush
Preceded by James A. Belson
Succeeded by Inez Smith Reid[1]
Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
In office
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Succeeded by Brook Hedge
Personal details
Born Emmet Gael Sullivan
1947 (age 70–71)
Washington, D.C.
Education Howard University (B.A.)
Howard University School of Law (J.D.)

Emmet Gael Sullivan (born 1947) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.[2] He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Howard University. He worked in private practice for more than a decade at Houston & Gardner, becoming a name partner in 1980. He was appointed to the bench of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1984, and to the federal bench in 1994.

Education and career[edit]

Sullivan was born in Washington, D.C. in 1947 and attended local schools. He graduated from McKinley Technology High School in 1964. In 1968, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Howard University, a historically black college, and in 1971 a Juris Doctor from the Howard University School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, Sullivan received a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship; he was assigned to the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, D.C., where he worked for one year. The following year, he served as a law clerk to Superior Court Judge James A. Washington, Jr., a former professor and Acting Dean of Howard University School of Law.

In 1973, Sullivan joined the law firm of Houston & Gardner, co-founded by Charles Hamilton Houston, who had developed Howard University Law School as its dean, and led litigation for the NAACP to overturn racially restrictive laws. Sullivan became a partner and was actively engaged in the general practice of law with that firm. In August 1980, his partner, William C. Gardner, was appointed as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Sullivan was a name partner in the successor firm of Houston, Sullivan & Gardner. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Law and has served as a member of the visiting faculty at Harvard Law School's Trial Advocacy Workshop.

Sullivan was appointed by President Reagan to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on October 3, 1984. On November 25, 1991, Sullivan was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve as an Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Federal judicial service[edit]

Sullivan was nominated by President Bill Clinton on March 22, 1994, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 15, 1994, and received commission on June 16, 1994.

Notable cases[edit]

Sullivan presided over a number of habeas corpus petitions in the early 21st century submitted on behalf of men detained by the United States military at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp as part of President George W. Bush's response to the 9/11 attacks of terrorism.[3]

Sullivan presided over the 2008 trial of Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted of ethics violations in October of that year. The judge initially refused requests by the defense for a mistrial to be declared, after information was revealed that the prosecution had withheld material.[4][5] But in April 2009, Sullivan set aside the conviction following a Justice Department probe that found additional evidence of gross prosecutorial misconduct.[6]

In 2014, Sullivan was presiding over a case, Judicial Watch v. IRS,[7] related to an ongoing investigation into the 2013 IRS controversy. There was an attempt to determine where the "lost" emails of former IRS employee Lois Lerner went, what damage to her computer hard drive occurred, and what steps the IRS had taken to recover the information contained in the emails and on the hard drive.[8][9]

In 2015 Sullivan presided over a FOIA lawsuit involving the matter of Hillary Clinton's private email use while Secretary of State.[10]

In the case of United States of America v. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser to Donald J. Trump was randomly assigned to District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras as shown in the two page indictment released on December 1, 2017.[11] On December 7, 2017, Contreras recused himself from the sentencing hearings to take place in further hearings in the Flynn case.[12] The case was randomly reassigned to Sullivan.[13]


  1. ^ Report of District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission
  2. ^ "Emmet G. Sullivan". US District Court. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  3. ^ "Respondents' response to Court's August 7, 2006 order" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. August 15, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  4. ^ Lewis, Neil A. (2 October 2008). "Judge Berates Prosecutors in Trial of Senator" – via NYTimes.com. 
  5. ^ News, A. B. C. (2 October 2008). "Judge Denies Stevens Mistrial Request". 
  6. ^ "Sen. Ted Stevens's conviction set aside". CNN. 2009-04-07. 
  7. ^ Judicial Watch (June 27, 2014). "Motion for Status Conference". Judicial Watch. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ Andrew Zajac (August 14, 2014). "Judge Prods IRS on Effort to Save Lois Lerner's E-Mail". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  9. ^ Kevin G. Hall (August 14, 2014). "Group: Inquiry ordered into lost IRS emails". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  10. ^ Jason Donner (August 20, 2015). "Judge orders State Dept. to work on recovering emails, suggests Clinton violated policy". Fox News. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI in Russia Probe". Retrieved 2017-12-08. 
  12. ^ "Judge recuses in Michael Flynn case". POLITICO. Retrieved 2017-12-08. 
  13. ^ "Judge presiding over Michael Flynn criminal case is recused: court". Reuters. 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2017-12-08. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
James A. Belson
Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Succeeded by
Inez Smith Reid
Preceded by
Louis F. Oberdorfer
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia